IMPACT – HIGH

What is the change? A mandatory “Settling-in Programme” will launch in 2018 to help foreign employees acclimate to Singapore and understand their employment rights and obligations, the Ministry of Manpower has announced. The program, to begin in the second half of the year, will be similar to an existing program for first-time foreign domestic workers, and employers will be required to enroll foreign employees and pay the course fees.

What does the change mean? Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say said that the program will be rolled out in phases, starting with first-time non-Malaysian foreign workers in the construction sector, and eventually expanding to employees of other sectors, including manufacturing, service industries and others.

  • Implementation time frame: Second half of 2018.
  • Who is affected: Work permit holders.
  • Business impact: Employers will be responsible for registering foreign employees and paying for the course fees.

Background: The ministry launched a pilot program in 2016 that received positive feedback from both employers and employees. Employers noted that employees who attended the course showed an improved attitude toward work, while employees said that the course taught them how the agency can help when employment issues arise.

The current program for foreign domestic workers consists of a one-day course that must be completed within three days of the worker’s arrival in Singapore. Employers must register with an accredited training provider and pay the course fee of 75 Singapore dollars (about US$56).

BAL Analysis: The mandatory coursework will help the ministry enforce employment laws and will also educate foreign workers on their rights and responsibilities. Employers should plan for the program rollout next year and budget for the required course fees for their foreign employees.